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Rapport d'activité - Éclosion mondiales (document en anglais)

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Executive summary

The purpose of this report is to examine previous cases of pandemic outbreaks in the world, their economic effects, and their implications for a modern-day pandemic.

Methods of analysis include previous case details, data collection from article, and courses I had a few years ago.

First of all, previous cases of global outbreaks will be reviewed, in order to better understand the crucial impact of global outbreaks on world fate. Cases like the bubonic plague and influenza will be highlighted, as key examples that perfectly describe the significance of such events on world.

In the second section, an outlook of what could happen, and how a pandemic can spread will be provided with results that would emerge from it.

Finally, some research about the H5N1 in Netherlands will be presented, raising a few questions about how viruses should be handled.

At this point, our main concern is to deal with previous and possible global outbreaks, to see what the consequences were, how they propagated, how they were faced, and how they ended.


Methods of gathering information, facts and data include: articles retrieved from financial and international newspapers and a report from the World Health Organisation.


Previous cases

Since the existence of mankind, men have always been looking for ways of facilitating their movements. From centuries to centuries, men succeeded by innovating their means of transportation, but simultaneously, flu viruses benefited from these new ways of transportation. By following the tracks of men.

One of the first major pandemic flus was the bubonic plague that reached Europe’s southern ports from the Crimea, in the winter of 1347-48 (The Economist, 1999, December 23).

The first occurrences were in China. Because China was one of the busiest commercial nations in the world for international trade at that time, the disease spread quickly throughout the world, and firstly towards Europe as its major trade partner. The spreading of the flu was mainly due to fleas, humans, and mice. This event had some results, as key examples: fields were uncultivated, cattle were straying without herdsmen, barns and wine cellars were wide open and a quarter of the world population perished.

A second major pandemic is the Influenza or Spanish flu of 1918. It killed roughly 40 million people worldwide and infected 500 million, that is to say around 3% of the world population (The Economist, 1999, December 23). The influenza pandemic mainly spread between males aged 18 to 40, certainly because after the war most of the males were on the battlefield and transmitted the flu to one another. This was the reason why “the influenza had serious economic consequences for the families that had lost their primary breadwinner” (The Economist, 1999, December 23).

In the article from The Arkansas Gazette (1918, October 19), it is explained how hard Merchants in Little Rock were affected by this disease. Some merchants said their business had declined by 40 per cent and others up to 70 per cent. In contrast demand for beds, mattresses, and medicine increased due to the treatment of influenza.

Another example from Memphis, Tennessee (The Commercial Appeal, 1918 October 5) explained that physicians were too busy combating the disease at such a point: they could not do anything else they were used to do. Moreover, many industrial plants and companies had difficulties to run their businesses, they were lacking in labour forces and in demand (Garrett, 2008).

The last example is from a recent pandemic flu that occurred during the past ten years.

Concerning the swine flu outbreak in 2009, Julian Jessop, chief international economist at consultants Capital Economics, put forward a hypothesis from the World Bank which estimated that “the worst case scenario would cost up to 4,8% of the world GDP (more than $3tn). But this assumed that 1% of the world’s population would die as a result of the pandemic – some 70 million people”(Hopkins, 2009, April 28). Recent flus resulted in a slowdown of transportation, the loss of animals that were sick, etc. Nevertheless, this flu was faced in a more effective manner compared to previous pandemic. Indeed, many measures were taken in order to avoid a global outbreak. The WHO (world health organization) took measures such as quarantine, vaccines and mask distributions, and many others. At this point, it is clear that flus had strong consequences on the world situation (Hopkins, 2009, April 28).

What could happen and how it would?

As seen previously, flus always had a strong impact on the world’s situation, this impact depends on the flu’s evolution, therefore fours stages stands out.

Nowadays, flu viruses spread easily and rapidly all over the world because of the ease of travelling.

Pandemic flus spread through droplets contained in sneezes and coughs, and by hand contact. According to Rodrigue, D. J.-P. (2009) there are 3 steps before it becomes a pandemic.


Emergence means the birth of the strain. This normally happens in hubs such as Shanghai or Hong Kong as these cities have very developed means of transportation, and therefore they are propitious to the propagation of the flu.

In other words, if the infection reaches one of these international terminals, the disease could spread very rapidly throughout the world.


At this stage, a few groups of individuals are infected. Symptoms might not be visible yet, and although some people may be quarantined, others are still free. The virus will be transmitted from infected groups of individuals when they travel throughout the world. The pandemic is split according to the destination of these people. The length of this process will depend on the location of the virus, and the behaviour (mainly social) of the infected. This is the time when, authorities try to assess the scale and scope of the new strain, and take measures against it. If identified early, it is still possible to avoid diffusion at a larger scale.


Now, the infection is in every major transport


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